Page 92 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 92

 FINDINGS
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R E P O R T
O F
T H E
INSTITUTIONAL SHIELDING OF DEFENDER BUDGETS
A number of supporters of the current CJA budgeting practice expressed a belief that because CJA budgeting requests are part of the larger judiciary appropria- tion, the CJA’s budget cannot be easily targeted for cuts. However, the CJA budget is a separate account, one of four contained within the judiciary appropriation, and entirely visible to Congress. Over the years, Congress has frequently treated the Defender Services account differently from other judiciary accounts—granting sometimes greater, sometimes lesser percentages of the Defender Services request than of the other accounts. And on at least one occasion described below, despite strong judicial opposition, Congress chose to target a particular defender program; not simply overall Defender Services spending levels.
INSTITUTIONAL PRESTIGE OF THE JUDICIARY
Even if the Defender Services account is fully visible to Congress, a number of wit- nesses suggested that the judiciary’s institutional prestige serves to protect defender funding. The Budget Committee chair has noted that the judiciary’s budgeting pro- cess “instills confidence within the Appropriations Committees in Congress that the funding needs for Defender Services, and for other Judiciary accounts that fall under the jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference, have received appropriate scrutiny.”178
It seems likely to the Committee that the Defender Services account receives favorable treatment by Congress both because judges are well respected and the judiciary carries substantial institutional prestige. It is also clear that the judiciary’s budget process ensures that Defender Services requests are well justified and docu- mented. But it does not necessarily follow that the public defense community could not obtain the same positive results acting on its own as an independent entity.
As to the more particular benefit posited by the Budget Committee Chair that Congress knows the Defender Services request has received appropriate scrutiny before its submission, it seems very likely that this benefit can be replicated. DSO staff has experience working with BAPO staff in creating formal budget submissions.
However, the benefit the account may receive as a result of respect for the judiciary as an institution is a different issue. Individual judges who appear before Congress are often known to and respected by members of Congress. But this does not mean that separation of the CJA function from the judiciary, either partly or entirely, will result in a complete loss of this benefit. Judges as individuals, and the judiciary as an institution, have supported the Defender Services program because it is constitutionally mandated. Neither the individuals’ nor the institution’s com- mitment to provision of high quality public defense is likely to diminish because of any change in where the CJA program is housed. The evidence on this is quite clear.
One striking example is that of 87 chief judges who, individually witnessing
178 3.26.2014_JudgeGibbons.HouseAppropsHearingQFRs,QuestionsfortheRecordSubmittedby Congressman Mike Quigley.
No recommendation presented herein represents A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States unless approved by the Conference itself.




















































































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